Case study: Science Fiction & Society
Mark Juszczak
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Higher Education Organization in the GCC


Both the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and the United States share a similar problem - a gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) graduates. In simple terms, not enough young people are majoring in hard sciences when they enter college to meet the needs of a booming IT & technology workforce.

A number of approaches have been taken thus far in the GCC and in the broader Middle East to tackle this problem. But, most approaches have focused on students already in college, under the assumption that the stumbling block in increasing STEM graduates is only based on their access to internships and on the quality of the program itself.


I have taken a different approach and developed a pilot program that looks at resolving the underlying issues - motivation in high school students to investigate and understand the context of science in their life, not merely as consumers, but as practitioners and developers.

I have developed an intensive inter-disciplinary program called "Science Fiction & Society". This program, modeled on the original idea of American Studies in junior year of high school as an interdisciplinary program focused on reading literature through history and vice-versa, swaps out 1/2 of the traditional junior year literature curriculum with an integrated critical reading program of science fiction that contextualizes current social and economic problems through science fiction literature.


The program is currently under development. it will take 6-9 months to assemble a curriculum, and design a teacher training program that meets minimum criteria of capability for discussion of science fiction works in the context of critical problem analysis.